The health secretary plans to appoint a new chair to Monitor, the NHS provider regulator, early next year, HSJ has learned.

Andrew Lansley has written to Monitor chair Steve Bundred and other board members telling them recruitment of a new chair will begin shortly.

An appointment is expected to be made early next year after an open process, in which Mr Bundred could choose to reapply. The process is expected to begin imminently. The government is significantly transforming Monitor into an economic regulator of all NHS providers.

It is not yet clear whether Monitor’s other board members will be replaced. The DH has told them there will be other changes to the organisation’s board, and it is understood it is likely to be “expanded”, but the details are not yet clear.

A Department of Health statement said: “Our plans for the NHS include giving Monitor a new, expanded role as economic regulator to promote competition and ensure it works in the interest of patients and taxpayers.

“This new economic regulator will have a significantly different set of responsibilities from Monitor in its current form. The department is holding an open recruitment process for its chair.”

Mr Bundred was appointed under previous health secretary Andy Burnham in March. From 2003 until November last year he was Audit Commission chief executive. In the post he earned significant respect as the first senior public servant to admit the huge impact of the financial crisis on the public sector – which he referred to as “Armageddon”.

The other members of the board are deputy chair Christopher Mellor, previously chief executive of Anglian Water Group, Health Foundation chief executive Stephen Thornton and Jude Goffe, a venture capital and corporate adviser and King’s Fund trustee.